Tag Archives: hymn

Using pre-1611 music

The title page to the 1611 first edition of th...
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Pre-1611 music service

On November 20, 2011 the Church of the Mediator Episcopal church in Micanopy, FL ( held a service that focused on the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. To try and keep the service as much musically like what people may have heard in 1611, we tried to select appropriate music.

The scripture was, of course, from the King James version. We used the original edition, complete with the different spellings used in 1611.

Hymns

In researching hymn tunes and lyrics that were written prior to 1611, we discovered that few English language hymns exist. It was about 100 years later that English language hymnody really took off with such authors as Isaac Watts. Although there are numerous foreign language pieces (eg. German) that were possibilities, but the translations, such as A Mighty Fortress, were written long after 1611 so we did not use those titles.

We could only find about 7 hymns that would work. Of those, the following were chosen. Even with these, some of the translations or harmonizations were done after 1611.

  • Jerusalem, My Happy Home (Tune: Diana)
  • Psalm 23 metrical version (Tune: St. Flavian)
  • The Lord Descended from above (Tune: Moravian)
  • All People That On Earth Do Dwell (Tune: Old 100th)
  • I Call On Thee, Lord Jesus (Tune: Ich Ruf Zu Dir)

The hymn I Call on Thee was written by Miles Coverdale (1487-1568) who is probably best known for his Coverdale Psalms, a translation of Psalms. The hymn tune dates to 1533 but was harmonized in 1928. It is found in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal as hymn 634.

All People That On Earth Do Dwell is set to the tune Old 100th, best known to many as the Doxology. The words by William Keth (d. ~1608) and is a paraphrase of Psalm 100. In this case, the lyrics and music are all written pre-1611. The music is from 1551 and harmonized prior to 1561. This is probably the oldest hymn with lyrics and music commonly used by congregations today.

Jerusalem, My Happy Home was written in the 16th century. The melody, tune: Diana, is a traditional English melody from the 16th century. The setting we used was harmonized in 1939.

The metrical Psalm setting of Psalm 23 we used was to the tune St. Flavian, sung often to the lyrics Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days. This tune dates from 1562.

The Lord Descended From Above is another Sternhold Psalm. The tune is Moravian from pre-1611. The edition we used was from an 1882 Church of Christ/Presbyterian hymnal.

Organ Music

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I do not have access to any original edition organ publications pre-1611. I did have several arrangements or adaptations of pre-1611 organ music.

For pre-service music, I played the following:

  • Pavane, by William Byrd
  • Salmodia para el Magnificant by Antonio de Cabezon, arranged by E. Power Biggs
  • Dialogo per Organo by Adriano Banchieri, arranged by E. Power Biggs
  • St. Flavian (tune)

During communion I played the following titles. In the E. Power Biggs edition I had, they were grouped together as one piece, in two sections:

  • 1. Pavana – The Earle of Salisbury from Parthenia or The Maydenhead (1611) by William Byrd
  • 2. Galiardo also from Parthenia or The Maydenhead (1611) by William Byrd
The Pavana in this piece is the same as the pre-service piece, but arranged quite differently. I suspect, but have no way to know, that this edition is more accurate to the original.
For the postlude I played Ayre of Four Parts by John Dowland.
(Added 11/21)
If you’d like to see the sermon that focuses on the KJV, visit:

Making a music arrangement using Sibelius 7

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B49i8EtmS-w?hl=en&fs=1]

Ever wonder what goes on in an arranger’s mind when they go to arrange a piece of music? Well, here’s a video showing some of that process. It also shows off some of the new Sibelius 7 music notation software.

See how I take a hymn tune based on a German folk melody and turn it into a fugue like arrangement for solo organ.

Not mentioned in the video is that the piece was used a few weeks ago (end of July 2011) as a postlude for a church service. Postludes are the music heard at the end as everyone is leaving so you don’t want it to be too long. The piece served its function well and will probably be used again.

I did find one issue with the arrangement when playing it. As the 3rd voice of the ‘fugue’ comes in, the hand spread required to play the piece requires part of the right hand part to be played with the left hand. That’s not too bad, but it was a bit awkward switching.

Questions about Sibelius or making the arrangement are welcome.